We’re two days from Avengers and lo & behold only five comic books have “Avengers” in the title, two of which are movie tie-ins. A quick look at the comics being released next week shows a lot of Avengers comics are hitting the shelves. My guess is they’re trying to catch the new readers looking to get more crack-laced Avengers books. There are lots of new #1 issues though, coming from all walks of life be it DC, Dynamite or Image. I had a hard time picking the best books this week, largely because there were so many comics to read. Lets see how our ten dollar budget fares.


Hulk Smash Avengers #1 (of 5) (Marvel)


This is the perfect book for new readers, largely because there are no convoluted storylines they need to keep track of. The characters are written very simply and you get all the standard fare, including Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor along with some non-movie Avengers like Wasp, Giant Man and Rick Jones.


“Forget it Thor!” Whoa, calm down Cap.

I’d wager Marvel knew they needed an Avenger-related book on the shelf that anyone could pick up and read since the movie is hitting Friday and this is that book. It’s simple, easy to read and you can’t fault Marvel for the book.


Clearly the “Hulk buster” hadn’t been invented yet.

The characters all speak as they did when Stan Lee was writing them. It’s a nice throwback issue, but for $3.99 and nothing to do with current storylines it’s more of a novelty than a worthy read.

Budget: $10.00-$0.00 = $10.00


Epic Kill #1 (Image)


Image Comics has been releasing new #1 issues quite a bit in the last three months and Epic Kill might be the best yet. Told from a first person perspective, the book follows a young Asian woman who goes to a school for troubled girls. Someone wants her dead because she’s very good at killing. She also appears to be slightly bonkers which makes it all the more epic.


Sharky just wanted to know where the bubbler was to get a drink.

She has amnesia, because what girl doesn’t after leaving the hitman business, but as the story progresses she remembers her training. Writer and artist Raffaele Ienco has a perfect balance between narrative, flashbacks and action. It all meshes very well and it’s reminiscent of a good film. The character is meditating throughout the issue and slowly piecing things together. It’s a great way to transition from all the pieces.


Memory remembered and karate move done adequately. Level up!

It’ll be interesting to see if the woman’s hallucinations continue throughout the series, as they add an extra element that is at once original and exciting. At one point, being chased by men with guns, she imagines them looking like this:

And she needs to get her shit together before getting her ass blown off. The one gripe I have with this issue is there’s a lot of bullet time moments, where she’s dodging bullets. The one saving grace is that she doesn’t necessarily look cool doing it. If anything she looks like she’s in a trance. The bullet time occurs so often though it gets repetitive.

I’m a big proponent of pacing and this issue has it in droves. Not once will you think, “get on with it,” or “whoa, that was quick.”

Budget: $10.00-$2.99 = $7.01

Eight comics this week had a lot of potential, and might fit in a bigger budget, but ended up not making the cut. Thanos will hex these comics into submission.

Exiled #1 is good fun, especially if you’ve been following Journey Into Mystery, but it’s a lot of set up and not a lot of gain. It’s offers an interesting premise that could change the way Marvel handles some characters, but it can’t fit our budget.

Retconning is important in comics. It allows old characters to become young again, come back to life and generally keep the business afloat. Do I like the Iron Fist retcon going on in The Defenders #6? Not really. The issue is a bit clunky and it’s lost all the energy that made it fun to begin with. Matt Fraction might be burned out, but it very quickly lost the fun quotient.

Amazing Spider-Man #685 continues the Sinister Six plot, where Doctor Octopus is holding the world ransom. A lot of this issue felt like it could have fit on one page. The idea of world heroes aiding Spidey is a fun one and it’ll be entertaining to see a hero named Kangaroo from Australia kick butt.

Swamp Thing #9 is the culmination of all the issues that came before it. Where the last issue was all about rebirth, this issue is all about the death of the Rot. It’s a surprise how Swamp Thing defeats The Rot, but the issue isn’t as cohesive as previous issues. It’s enjoyable, but not worthy of a 10 dollar budget.

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Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #10 is really good, especially if you’ve been waiting for this kid to start kicking butt. Bendis captures a child’s voice perfectly and the art is slick. It’s a pretty special thing when you can relate to a ten year old inner city kid. Next issue will be even better based on the reveal on the final page.

A blast from the past, X-O Manowar #1 opens exactly where nobody expected: Italy 402 A.D. Expectations are a bit high for this book and at the end of the day it’s a nice origin story that tells half the tale. There’s too much Braveheart battling and not enough science fiction for my tastes, but I’ll definitely be buying the next issue.

Mind the Gap #1 is a long comic. For $2.99 readers get over 40 pages of story. The art is very nice and reminds me of the Luna brothers, but the story doesn’t seem to go anywhere. It’s clear it’s being told slowly, I get that, but after all those pages I still felt lost. The premise is interesting, a girl is in a coma and is communicating with someone from the other side, but the reason for her death and everything else is confusing.

Mark Waid, why must you tickle us with your wit while Chris Samnee owns every single panel with his glorious pencils? Daredevil #12 is a great backstory on Foggy and Mat Murdoch’s past lives in law school. The story is cute, fun and even has a little lesson. It doesn’t work quite as well as FF #17 last week, but it’s a nice story. On a bigger budget this might have been purchased.


I believe the bathroom is that way.


Venom #17 (Marvel Comics)



Flash Thompson is the proud owner of a symbiote that can be directly shipped to him at any time through a phone line due to the aid of Pym particles. You see he’s an Avenger now. The suit has been made less addictive, but for a guy with a drinking problem things made less addictive can still be addicting. Crime Master wants to kill Flash and his family, so under the pretense of stopping a robbery decides to take him out once and for all.


Badass much?

In a lot of ways this new version of Venom, one that totes a machine gun and works for the military, is a lot more exciting than the 90s Venom we grew to love. The symbiote still goes nuts from time to time with teeth and all, but the more subdued broken man on a mission thing works for the character. He also looks badass in armor.


Venom be gangstah! Blat blat blat!

This story has a ton of action, but it also incorporates Eddie Brock in an interesting way. I won’t reveal anything, but lets just say it’s good to see Eddie back. There’s also some smirk inducing moments, such as one of Crime Masters henchmen having some kind of Tetris power.


You always save the long piece! No wonder you’re the bad guys!

This is everything you want in a comic. Balls to the wall action, plot development, character development and a great surprise to finish it off.

Picture 22


Swing and thrust!

Writer Rick Remender has had an up and down tenure with Venom the last few months, largely because of stories that stretched out farther than they should have been. This is a nice turn for the better.

Budget: $7.01-$2.99 = $4.02


Avengers vs. X-Men #3 (Marvel)



Avengers vs. X-Men #3 had a sweet battle between Captain America and Wolverine. And that’s about it. I reviewed it in a lengthier format here. Not enough bang for your buck.

Budget: $4.02-$0.00 = $4.02


Earth 2 #1 (DC)



Dear DC,

As a reader who doesn’t read previews or focus in on the solicits, what ever is this series? I’m curious to find out if this is the start of a Summer event. The story tantalizes and is clever. As far as elseworlds stories go this also may or may not tie into the main DCU well enough to make it worth my time.

Worried Reader,
Dave


Judo-head-chop.

The art in this issue is amazing. I’ve never heard of Nicola Scott, but damn it’s good. The designs of all the heroes are just different enough to make them all unique and different from the regular DCU as well. This is another Earth, fighting to save the planet similar to the Justice League in Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s first story arc that recently ended. Oh, did I mention Batman’s DAUGHTER is Robin?


Hubba hubba.

Elseworld stories are a finicky thing and typically are a waste of time. This issue is extra pertinent though, as it shows another Earth where the Justice League have failed. Instead of Darkseid they are fighting Steppenwolf, and I imagine Magic Carpet Ride doesn’t exist in this dimension.


Heroes can die in elsworld stories. A plus.

Unfortunately there was one more book that outdid this one. I liked this issue, but the elseworld stories are a double edged sword in that they don’t really matter all that much. The twist at the end is pertinent, but the budget can’t take the hit.

Budget: $7.01-0.00 = $7.01


Dial H #1 (DC)



China Mieville writing comics! Oh my word! Mieville is a science ficton writer of such works as “The City and the City,” and “Embassytown”. Do I need to tell you the premise is original as original can be? Do I need to tell you the dialogue is realistic, interesting and progresses the story? Do I need to tell you this hero is pretty freaking fascinating?


This isn’t normal, but on meth it is.

I’m not sure a first issue can grab the reader as well as this issue does. It can be roughly equated to a roller coaster as the reader is just as confused and perplexed as the main character.


Splash pages are so splashy.

This isn’t an original concept by Mieville and was actually a character and premise set up in 1966. That being said, there’s a master hand crafting this story and it shows. All the protaganist has to do is dial the letters H-E-R-O into a pay phone and the dial causes its possessor to become a superhero with a different name, costume, and powers. It’s a rad idea and it allows for surprises each issue.

I’ve never heard of artist Mateus Santoluoco but damn can he draw. You get the impression he drew monsters all throughout his childhood and it shows. This book should not be missed.

Budget: $4.02-2.99 = $1.03

A dollar saved and two original series to get wrapped up in. A very enjoyable week for comics. Now for Avengers!